Beyond good and evil, prelude to a philosophy of the future
By Friedrich Nietzsche
PREJUDICES OF PHILOSOPHERS.
Having kept a sharp eye on philosophers, and having read between their lines long enough, I now say to myself that the greater part of conscious thinking must be counted amongst the instinctive functions, and it is so even in the case of philosophical thinking; one has here to learn anew, as one learned anew about heredity and “innateness.” As little as the act of birth comes into consideration in the whole process and continuation of heredity, just as little is ” being-conscious ” opposed to the instinctive in any decisive sense; the greater part of the conscious thinking of a philosopher is secretly influenced by his instincts, and forced into definite channels. And behind all logic and its seeming sovereignty of movement, there are valuations, or to speak more plainly, physiological demands, for the maintenance of a definite mode of life. For example, that the certain is worth more than the uncertain, that illusion is less valuable than “truth”: such valuations, in spite of their regulative importance for us, might notwithstanding be only superficial valuations, special kinds of niaiserie*, such as may be necessary for the maintenance of beings such as ourselves. Supposing, in effect, that man is not just the “measure of things.” . . .
There were elections in Holland last week, and though I don’t live there anymore I still follow the news with interest. The parties on the right side of the right have won a few seats in the parliament, and that was disappointing. I did learned recently that in a country like Holland you always have around 20% of the people that vote way to the right or populist. This knowledge makes it a little bit easier to have peace with what’s happening, but it doesn’t make me want to move back. I left Holland for all kinds of reasons but one of them was the hardening of society. Here in Norway things are probably not all that rosy to, but even after 15 years, there is still a buffer between me and whats going on here. I make sure of this by not reading the Norwegian news and the character of the Norwegians helps to, they don’t talk about politics with you if you don’t ask them. In Holland it is all much clearer how someone looks at life, they tell you.
Democracy is important, it brought us all a lot of good. Democracy can also steer a country into ruins if a majority, and that is not always necessary, get a chance. Look at Nazi Germany, Trump’s America or Brazil. In Holland the mainstream parties ignore the brown-shirts but you never know what’s gonna happen in the future. I thought 15 years ago that it all would blow over but the parties of resentment only got stronger. It frustrates me, I just wish we had a democracy where we voted for people because we appreciate their competence as a human being and a leader. I have so much to say about this but don’t know how, for now I try it is some kind of short poem that highlights one aspect of the popular leader.
I moved to a new house, city, or country on average every two, to three years I think. I don’t know why, I can always point to a reason, but if you do it so regular, you might as well assume that it’s just in my character. I am easy satisfied, but after a while, I will still pretend to be satisfied, but jump at the first chance to close the door behind me.
Some people like to find out where their little quirks come from. Where the first seed is sown, a little bit to far from the center. There have been made some attempts, by professionals, as well as the not so, to find the origin and, if necessary, a cure. I later found out, or concluded for my self, that all that doctors can do is to postpone the inevitable, and if they are good they, will help you dealing with that fact.
It is really easy to start digging in your past for the root of it all. The problem is that if you find a root, you tend to see where that one is going, all the while forgetting that an average tree has more than one root. All the roots are important for a tree to stand tall, and some of them might be rotten, butt even the roots that are rotten might keep you upright, when the wind is coming from that specific direction.
The poem for today is from Day 1425
at the door
in the wall
I don’t have this problem, some might say that that’s the problem with me. For me it’s the norm, and I always wonder how people can live in the same place, with the same job, for years and years. In my world, there is something “wrong” with them, maybe they just stare to long at opportunities, wondering if they want to, or dare.
This poem is from Day 1421. I have no way of proving this, it is just an idea. The idea of the poem is that we are all capable of coming to similar conclusions, in similar circumstances. Lets say that you are a liberal progressive, if you, for whatever circumstances, move to a more conservative area, and start hanging out with the people that live there, there is a chance that your idea’s slowly change. Our first reaction is off course that, that wouldn’t happen to you, but are you so sure, that you have not changed in the last 10 or 20 years. Maybe not in your political orientation, but it would be strange if you didn’t adapt some habits and customs from the people you live with that are different from the once you had in a different time.
Fashion is a good example, we all think we are choosing the clothes , and hairstyle we like, but if you look back long enough, you will realize that, that’s not completely true. There is no reason to believe that this also works for your thoughts and idea’s. Your thoughts and idea’s are more private than the clothes you wear, so it is not so easy to look back in time, and compare. You can’t interview your past self, to you can find out how you changed, maybe your lucky, and have an old diary. Just remember that you change slowly, and you will change again. Even if this is not true, it is still healthy for you, and society to realize that what you feel is true, is true from where, and when, you are.
This place where you are, is represented in the poem by a line. Maybe a straight line, maybe it is a circle or oval. We might be far apart in our idea’s and values, but “we are on the same line” in regards to our believe in our truths, and we share the believe that we would, or have ever, changed. We might share more with others, than we would likely admit.
The poem that inspired me today is from Day 1406. If you click on the link you will see the picture that inspired me to write that poem. When I write these short poems I try to describe the picture, and at the same time I want to put some philosophy in there. I have lived at a place that was once an island, but because there is a bridge now, I wondered if it is still an island. There are all kinds of opinions about this question, but for me it didn’t feel like an island. Your stuck on an island when it storms, we could just leave when we wanted. It’s a silly question, but the poem can also be seen with a philosophers eye.
on an Island
there is this bridge
to the rest
of the world
I really live
on an Island
We humans, I don’t know if other animals do this to, are good in getting stuck in our own heads. We all know what it feels like to worry about, for example, the bills that have to be paid, what your knew boss and colleagues thinks of you, or your new lover. You can think of many other examples that make us think and ponder way to much in our own heads.
There are of course enough legitimate reason to worry and stress about a situation, like when a family member has to go to a hospital, or your marriage is coming to an end. But if you have lived for a while, you can tell yourself that you have worried about paying the bills for years now, and you are still alive, you always managed. And that new job, when you just started you had a reason to question your skills, but now you have proven yourself, you don’t have to fall back to these old habits. And worry about a new lover… well, if you are afraid to live alone after, lets say your 30th birthday, than you have bigger problems.
When it is storming outside, and your are stuck on your little island in your head, you have to remember that there is still a bridge to the mainland. A bridge to family members or friends that can help you. Even if you have no one on the other side of the bridge, just the act of crossing it can be a big help. I always promote to people the idea that they have to try to broaden their horizon. When your stuck on your little island, you have only access to what is on that island. If that is the only knowledge you have, that can help you out of a bind, and it is not working, you have to put new knowledge in your head.
I like the island metaphor, but I also have a metaphor with a car. A lot of people have problems with metaphor’s, they tell me halfway: but I am not car. If you one of them, then I am sorry.
The metaphor goes like: When your car breaks down, and you don’t know nothing about cars, then you have a problem understanding what is going on, or explaining the problem to an other. The only thing you can say is that it stopped and no longer works. Lets now say that after this experience you take a course in car mechanics, and you read some books about cars and how they work. With this knowledge, you can maybe find the problem with your car, the next time it stops working. You know all the parts, and you can maybe see witch one is broken, and if you can’t find the problem you can tell the mechanic more accurate what happened, and point him or her to the right direction.
The car is of course yourself, when we brake down, and stay on our island of knowledge, we might never find out what is going on. If you start reading some books about us, humans, and how we work, you might find clues about your own problem much easier, or tell a friend clearer what is going on with you.
P.S. I feel a little stuck in my head, had a demanding job at work, and it seems that I have totaled my car in a minor crash with a ditch that was pleasantly dug besides the slippery road. So in my head I feel that I have rambled on for to long…
Fifteen years ago I moved to Norway, and though I easily adept wherever you drop me, I have no problems with living here, for all these years. There are a few things that I miss, Norway is more paternalistic, Holland is more liberal. I don’t drink much alcohol but you can not buy it here after eight o’clock, and hard liquor is only available I a few stores. They probable have their reasons but as a grownup man I want to decide myself if and when I buy my alcohol. It’s just an example, but it shows a mentality.
The thing is, when I am in Holland visiting family, and eating the food I missed, or doing other things I can’t do in Norway, the pleasure is there when I finally have the chance, but it also feels that it was only yesterday that I did these things. It’s the same with family, you know them so well that 1 or 2 years away can’t erase the years you spend together. Time is a strange thing, it feels like life is put on pause in Holland when I hop in a plane back to Norway, and it gets unpaused when I am back in Holland.
Maybe it has something to do with me and how I stand in life, the memories of all the things I have done in the past are often enough for me, these memories are a good substitute for any cravings I have. My girlfriend sometimes misses things more than I do, she wanted to live in a city again, for example. One of my arguments against it was that I have lived in cities. I have had that experience, she did to. If we would go back we would just pick up where we where before, and it would not feel refreshing, and new.
If you want to go back to a place where you where before, reality will start where the mundane life you had there, was paused when you left, and not at the “idealized idea” of what life was back then. We live close to a city again, and though I don’t really mind, I drive again over the same roads I have driven over for many years, years ago.
As a carpenter, I sometimes have apprentices. As a teacher I have to try to imagine what they are going to do, so I can stop them when they might cut their finger in two instead of the peace of wood. I have to look at their movements and expressions in the face, is it showing doubt, or confidence? They can both be dangerous.
Outside of these kinds of teacher vs student situations, we also like to “imagine” the movements of the people we meet and live with. We are specially interested in the movements of their thoughts, and like to predict them, and why they do the things they do. The problem is that we don’t like to be judged like a student when we talk with the people we meet and/or care about. There are of course all kinds of signals that can lead the astute observer to predict what the other thinks or is going to do. Just read stories about con artists and their ability to “read” people. But it is not polite to do it, at-least not to much.
The biggest problem we face while we interpret the other, is our own lack of objectivity. When I tell my apprentice not to put their finger at this or that place, and I see their finger starting to move their, I can intervene. I know from my own objective experience that your finger wants to go there, but you have to resist that urge, that’s what I have to teach the apprentice, and I can do this objectively. When they are young they will often complain and tell me that they know that, but their body language tells different, and to protect their fingers I have to insist and tell them that they are wrong.
As a teacher you have, most of the time, more knowledge, and because of this you can “predict” what your apprentice is going to do. The problem is that there are no teachers in life, or living. We are all apprentices, and as such it is difficult to maintain a healthy teacher vs student relation with anybody when the thing you have to learn is…living. There are many people that have really good ideas about life, and they can be worth it to be studied and taken serious. But good advice is not life, even Gandhi had horrible idea’s, and mother Teresa is also no saint in all regards.
Life is a project we are all working on in our own pace, and we will meet a lot of people that know a shortcut to finish life’s project, but look around, and look at the state of the world. It is better then before but there was never and is not now, someone that has finished “project life”…without cutting their fingers.
Today writing was inspired by a poem I wrote for Day 1400
This is a poem I wrote on Day 1396, January last year.
An empty mind
makes nice echo’s
This is a poem I wrote on Day 1396, January last year.
I have always had an interest in conspiracy theories. I remember reading books from Däniken, about aliens, and I also bought books about other kinds of conspiracies, more general. I was in my early twenties and it was kind of exiting reading about things where no one talks about. This was all before the internet became a big thing, so it was not possible for me to get sucked in, on a downwards spiral, on you tube. I soon started seeing all kinds of inconsistencies, and started reading books that debunked a lot of these strange, but interesting, and exiting idea’s.
The strange thing is that I was still young, and knew little about the world around me. I still had to learn a lot about politics, society, history and so on. So my world view was still kind of empty, but when I read these conspiracy books I enjoyed shoving it in the face of my empty worldview. I think I just liked to “shove it” into something, like young people often do. It is also the way these stories are told, there is a constant undertone of hidden secrets and powers. These hidden powers control the world, a world that I just started to learn, but more important, still didn’t.
That was my small laps into insanity, but it is useful, I have my own experience, though it is 28 years ago, so I don’t know how reliable my memory is of that time. As I said before, I am still interested in conspiracy theories, and specially the mindset of people that believe these idea’s. Last year I watched a lot of you tube video’s about people that debunk flat earth believes. There is an overwhelming mount of evidence that the world is round, but there are thousands of people that believe otherwise. I have to tel one story, because it is still with me. They asked a flat earther why he didn’t hop on a bout and sailed to the edge to take some pictures, as proof that the earth is flat. He said that they patrol the seas to stop this from happening. The interviewer then calculated that you need around 50.000 boats to stop anyone from entering the “forbidden” zone. You have to man these boats in shifts, they have to be maintained and build, millions of people have to be involved in that task…why has no one ever talked about this secret project? It is ridicules of course, but we people like to make our little tree houses to play and hide in, and as long as we keep our knowledge of the world as minimal as possible, we make sure we have enough room for loud voices to fill that empty dome.
I like going to modern art museums. I like to go, because of it’s popularity, it’s most of the time nice and quiet to walk around. I walk around in other buildings to, looking at the details of it’s architecture and other details. But walking in a public building like that feels often awkward, that’s why I like to go to a museum. In a museum I can walk around, enjoy my surrounding, without feeling out of place.
I put meaning in my pictures, when I write a poem based on it, but I never take a picture with a particular poem in mind. I just take pictures, and surprise myself later. My girlfriend starts with a more elaborate plan when she makes her paintings, that’s another way to approach it. I never thought deep about why there are these different approaches, my first guess is, that it has to do with how our brains are wired. Another reason can be that I never learned how to take pictures, I know all the technical details, but a technically bad picture can still be good. Other photographers know more about light en moods and how to manipulate their gear to the fullest, and repeat that process. These are the kind of artist that plan their photo shoots, and they get at least a technically superior picture.
You see these different approaches in art museums to, blobs of colorful paint, detailed depictions of reality or beautifully made sculptures of nothings. I always look at them as beautiful accidents, like I take my pictures. I am always amazed when people tell all kinds of stories about the meaning of some of the details, the combination of colors, and why the artist did this or that. I personally think that if an artist has something to say with their art it should be “readable” with maybe some explanation, for everyone. If you have to tell what it means, then you should just tel people what you mean without wasting a canvas and paint.
I know that this is not fair. I read philosophy books that need some prior knowledge, and otherwise a lot of explanation. Maybe I miss that knowledge, regarding some of the modern art, to appreciate it in it’s fullest. But I don’t go to art museums to learn, I just enjoy the surrounding, the quietness and the architecture is often beautiful (and hopefully without meaning). And what’s hanging on the wall, can please the visual cortex to, and that’s a bonus.
I can’t imagine a person, who would tell everything they consciously know, and think at that moment, to an other person. There is of course no way you can tell, we can’t read minds so we assume that no one shows it all. Even if someone tells you all their darkest secrets, you still don’t know that for sure. We have to assume that we all have something hidden for the other.
Maybe this is the origin of the myth of the “soul-mate”. I would tell myself everything gladly, if I could meet myself, a soul-copy so to speak. There is no other like us, but what if you find a partner that comes close, one you can forge a bond with, a bond that is strong enough for you to let go of all that is cooped up in you. I don’t think relations , every kind of relation, would last long if you let it all go uncensored, even if love is in play…specially when love is in play. I am afraid that we all go to the grave with unspoken words.
It could also just be me, having this particular need. Maybe I have to become Catholic, and take the the judgment that I have sinned for granted.
There are all kind of different people, when you meet them for the first time. Your first impression, and judgment, is the layer you make, for the most part your self, you “pressed” it on them. It is hard to judge someone you just meet without comparing what you see with what you have seen before. It is not something you do consciously, for the most part. Try, the next time, to look at someone new and don’t think: that’s a woman. “She” can turn around, and be a man with long blond hair. It is a simple example that shows that we make a judgment based on prior knowledge, in western societies, long hair is more associated with woman, we learned that. The same goes for other external, and internal signs, we see an outline, or hint of a character trade, and a judgment forms. The real person is hidden behind several layers, some you made, and some that the person you meet, made themselves, to hide behind.